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Cloudy cornea

A cloudy cornea is a loss of transparency of the cornea.

Alternative Names

Corneal opacification; Corneal edema

Common Causes

The cornea makes up the front wall of the eye. It is normally clear. It helps focus the light entering the eye.

Causes of cloudy cornea include:

  • Inflammation
  • Sensitivity to non-infectious bacteria
  • Ulcers on the eye
  • Infection
  • Keratitis
  • Trachoma
  • River blindness
  • Swelling due to glaucoma, birth injury, or Fuchs' dystrophy
  • Dryness of the eye due to Sjogren syndrome, vitamin A deficiency, and sometimes after LASIK eye surgery
  • Dystrophy (inherited metabolic disease)
  • Keratoconus
  • Injruy to the eye, including chemical burns and welding injury
  • Scarring
Clouding may affect all or part of the cornea. It lleads to different amounts of vision loss . You may not have any symptoms in the early stages. 

Home Care

Consult your health care provider. There is no appropriate home care.

Call your health care provider if

Contact your health care provider if:

  • The outer surface of the eye appears cloudy
  • You have trouble with your vision

Note: It is appropriate to see an ophthalmologist for vision or eye problems. However, your primary health care provider may also be involved if a whole-body (systemic) disease is suspected.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your doctor or nurse will examine your eyes and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history, such as:

  • Did the cornea become cloudy quickly, or did it develop slowly?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Does it affect both eyes?
  • Is there any history of injury to the eye?
  • Do you wear contacts?
  • Do you have any trouble with your vision?
  • If so, what type (blurring, reduced vision, or other) and how much?

Tests may include:

  • Biopsy of lid tissue
  • Computer mapping of the cornea (corneal topography)
  • Schirmer's test for eye dryness
  • Special photographs to measure the cells of the cornea
  • Ultrasound to measure corneal thickness

References

Abbott RL, Halfpenny CP, Zegans M, Elander TR. Acanthamoeba Keratits. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane’s Ophthalmology. 2012 ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:vol 4;chap 18A.

Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.

Sharma R, Brunette DD. Ophthalmology. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 69.

Newlin AC, Wadia H, Sugar J. Corneal and external eye manifestations of systemic disease. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.25.

Updated: 9/18/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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